Asus' amazing 7in subnote goes on sale in Australia this weekend, but 'eeenthusiasts' are already diving under the hood to install Ubuntu and Windows XP
If you've been eager to get your paws on the much-publicised Asus Eee PC, mark this weekend in your calendar. The 7in Linux-powered ultra-portable goes on sale at Myer Sydney this Saturday, with other Myer stores introducing the $499 subnote on Sunday.
APC is tipping a fast sell-out to geeks who've been hankering for a device like this: a small, light, low-cost laptop packed with all the modern conveniences such as Wi-Fi and USB ports, but which embraces a more customisable open source philosophy rather than begin behind the eight ball of Windows.
|Black, with a bullet: US customers have rocketed the chic black Eee PC to number one on Amazon's computers hotlist. For now, Aussie buyers can only get the white version...
It's already the best-seller
on Amazon's Computers and Hardware section - in fact, the USD$399 Eee PC appears twice on the Top Ten ladder. In first place is the chic black version (yes, we want one too, but an Asus spokesperson told APCmag.com there are no plans to introduce it locally at this stage), while the more familiar white model is perched in seventh place.
(In that context, the rest of the Amazon list makes interesting reading: Nokia's N800 and N810 Internet tablet devices rank 3rd and 4th respectively, and the only non-portable PC in the top ten is HP's Windows Home Server. You don't see a desktop PC until #15 on the hit parade, and then it's the 20 inch iMac!).
Of course, any self-respective geek who snaps up an Eee PC this weekend won't leave it unsullied for long. Worldwide fans of the device have already converged on Eeeuser.com, with the site's forum.eeeuser.com proving to be a treasure trove of detail on putting the ‘Me' into the Eee PC.
|Tame those tabs: the Eee PC's default UI of a simple tabbed interface may be perfect for beginners...
For instance, if you load additional software onto the Eee PC you can't add icons to the tabbed user interface created by Asus (which is a window manager that sits atop Xandros). However, it's been discovered that the tab interface is simply the window manager running in ‘easy mode' - it also has a Windows-style start menu that's been disabled.
|Start me up: a quick tweak activates a hidden and more customisable 'start menu' that's better for advanced users
A post on the EeeUser forums reveals how to re-enable this start menu, which is not only more convenient than flicking through the tabbed screens but also allows greater personalisation, including adding your own groups and program icons.
|A lean, mean mini machine: or you can drop the tabbed UI altogether and run a more conventional (and more streamlined) desktop
What if Xandros isn't your cup of penguin juice? Fans have also detailed how to replace Xandros with Ubuntu and even Windows XP.
They're a step ahead of Asus, which has already announced that next year it will release an XP version of the Eee PC, following negotiations with Microsoft that saw the licensing cost of XP for this device dropped to below USD$40.
But why wait? If you've already got a copy of Windows XP, and are prepared to roll up your sleeves, you can grab an Eee PC on Saturday and by Monday you'll have the world's best value XP sub-note.
The only question that remains is, how long will it take someone to turn the Eee PC into an Eee Mac? Oh wait... someone already has .